While a business plan outlines your business as a whole, a marketing plan is still needed for determining which specific marketing principles you will use to guide your business toward success.
Whether it’s learning about business structures (part one), how to name your business (part two), or writing your business plan (part three), these entrepreneurship basics are essential for any entrepreneur to learn about. Learning about these entrepreneurship basics via a formal education or self study can help you prepare for the challenges of starting a business. This preparation is critical; businesses fail every year for a variety of different reasons that could be avoided.
In this final installment of our entrepreneurships basics miniseries, we uncover the key elements of your marketing plan and show you how to go about developing your plan, so your present or future business has the opportunity to succeed. There is a big difference between entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs; preplanning can help you become the latter.
We strongly encourage you to take your entrepreneurial education seriously as you begin your journey toward finding success as a business professional, both as a future employer or employee.
It’s important to first begin your marketing planning by conducting primary and secondary research in order to determine your business’ target market, so you can build your customer personas. Your market research should also include relevant demographic information about the size of your geographic marketplace, the competition, and how your business fulfills a need for your targeted customers. Consider also researching and projecting market treads that may impact your new business in the future.
After identifying both direct and indirect competitors in your market research, it is important to conduct a SWOT analysis of each one. This will allow you to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), so you can best differentiate your business to gain market share and grow.
At this point you also need to look inward and identify your own business’ potential strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. The strengths and opportunities should be on the top of your mind, while sometimes identifying weaknesses and threats is often more difficult. Every business has weaknesses and threats to consider. Do your business a favor and be honest to what those weaknesses and threats are for your business.
Identify Your Strategy
With all that you have completed so far, you are now ready to begin identify your marketing strategy; the tactics you will include within your businesses marketing mix. Partner your market research and customer persona information with your SWOT analysis results in order to identify your business’ unique identity within the marketplace.
The marketing tactics you identify are going to be the meat and potatoes of your marketing strategy. Now is the time to determine which specific tactics may best benefit your business and stimulate growth. It’s important to remember to put appropriate, specific, and measureable goals for these tactics in place in order to determine their effectiveness within your strategy later on.
Review Your Plan
If after all of this work you think you can just set this marketing plan on the shelf and never look at again, keep dreaming. This plan should become an ever evolving document throughout the life of your business. Markets change, some tactics fail, and new ones come to light. That is why it’s important to be able to track and measure the results, so you can make adjustments as you determine which tactics worked and which ones failed. This is vital so your business can remain agile to grow and survive throughout the constant changes in the marketplace.
Review your strategies effectiveness at least every quarter, and consider revising your marketing plan every year as needed.
As you can see, developing your marketing plan is nothing to rush through. Once you have your strategy in place not only will you be able to see how your business can be successful, but you will be able to review it and further refine it in the future as your business evolves.
Remember, this is one of the many entrepreneurship basics that are important to learn about prior to starting your career or opening a business. Becoming an entrepreneur requires a strong foundation of knowledge, as well as a desire to always be learning new things. The most successful entrepreneurs never stop learning; the only difference is how they got started.